This warm winter salad of roasted acorn squash, apple cider-braised kale and feta cheese and dried cranberries carries a serious flavor punch and also looks very festive for the holidays!
Every year I think I’ve done a great job of getting ahead on my holiday shopping. I will buy a few things months in advance, jot down a few ideas for various family members, and pat my back for thinking and planning ahead so well. But then, inevitably, December arrives and I have a mini panic that I’ve really hardly done anything at all.
Thanks to Amazon and online shopping, I’ve been able to check off a ton of my people on my list this week and just have some stocking stuffers left for the kids and my husband. OK, I have pretty much everything left to buy for my husband, but I kind-of know what I’m planning to get him. The end is in sight, people.
I’ll try not to think about the holiday cards that are currently in transit and need to be stuffed, addressed, stamped and sent back out as quickly as I can manage. I can feel the hand cramp already that comes from filling those envelopes out. Then again, I’ve already had a few come trickling in and I seriously love getting people’s cards and taping them up on the fridge and various doors and walls to enjoy all season long!
But I digress. We’re here for the food. And this is a lovely little holiday time side dish!
Acorn squash wedges are brushed with butter and maple syrup and roasted to tender, slightly crispy perfection. They they’re laid on top of sautéed kale that’s got a great tart kick from the apple cider vinegar, which pairs well with the sweet dried cranberries and the salty feta cheese. Everybody’s so happy all together here. It’s definitely one of those where you want a little bit of everything in each forkful.
Oh, and don’t freak out when you find your kale has turned a little brown in spots after it cooks. You’ll see it mostly on the bottom of the kale leaves; the ones that are against the bottom of the pan. It’s not burnt or bitter, it’s just been discolored by the acidity in the apple cider vinegar. Nothing to worry about; it tastes delicious! (And you can serve it with those sides down for the pretty presentation.)
I wish you stress-free holiday shopping with no lines, lots of sales and easy-to-find gifts. And, if not, I wish a large cocktail or glass of wine upon arriving home in a harried heap.
Cheers and enjoy!
For the acorn squash:
- 1 medium acorn squash
- 1 tablespoon butter, melted
- 1 tablespoon maple syrup
- Kosher salt and black pepper
For the salad:
- 1 teaspoon extra-virgin olive oil
- 1 medium bunch of kale, stems removed, leaves washed and roughly torn
- Kosher salt and black pepper
- 3 tablespoons apple cider vinegar
- ⅓ cup crumbled feta cheese
- ¼ cup dried cranberries
- Preheat the oven to 450.
- Cut each half of the acorn squash in 3-4 wedges, depending on the size. (Each wedge should be 1 to 1 ½ inches wide.) Be careful cutting - squash are very tough! Place wedges on an aluminum-foil lined baking sheet (for easy clean up).
- Combine the melted butter and maple syrup in a small bowl, stirring well to combine.
- Sprinkle the acorn squash wedges with kosher salt and black pepper, then brush with the butter-maple syrup mixture.
- Roast at 450 for 22-25 minutes, until tender and browned. (Be careful not to let it burn.)
- Meanwhile, prep and clean your kale: remove and discard the stems, then wash the leaves and roughly tear them. (I do this using the insert of my salad spinner so it can just hang out and drain a bit in the colander. No need to spin the leaves dry; a little water clinging to them will prevent them from drying out too much in the pan.)
- With about 10 minutes to go on the acorn squash, heat the olive oil in a large saute pan over medium heat. Add the torn kale leaves and saute for 3-4 minutes, until slightly wilted.
- Season the kale with salt and pepper, then add the apple cider vinegar to the pan. Cover, reduce heat to medium low and cook an additional 3-5 minutes, until the kale is tender. Season to taste with extra salt and pepper.
- To serve: Place the sautéed kale on your plate and top with 2-3 wedges of the roasted acorn squash (you can remove the peel to make it easier to eat or let everyone do it themselves). Sprinkle evenly with the feta cheese and dried cranberries. Serve hot and enjoy!
Amount Per Serving: Calories: 103Total Fat: 5gSaturated Fat: 3gTrans Fat: 0gUnsaturated Fat: 2gCholesterol: 12mgSodium: 292mgCarbohydrates: 15gFiber: 2gSugar: 7gProtein: 2g
** Are you done holiday shopping or still going strong? **